Research at Heller

The Heller School is home to 11 research centers and institutes specializing in a variety of social policy fields and disciplines. Five key values encourage us to conduct research that empowers others to make evidence-based change.

  1. We prize scientific rigor, incorporating it through quantitative and qualitative testing and analysis in an applied context.
  2. We probe new ideas, building on foundational knowledge with bold thinking.
  3. We strive for sustainability, finding solutions that ensure lasting structural change without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.
  4. We build community, recognizing that the inclusion of different perspectives generates better science. 
  5. We are respectful, refusing to impose our ideas on the communities we work with and for.

Our institutes maintain a portfolio of over $14 million in sponsored research projects, offer opportunities for student employment, provide specialized courses and train doctoral students for research careers. We take great pride in bringing evidence and knowledge to bear on social justice efforts wherever they exist—and wherever they do not. 

panel of speakers on stage in theater with Brandeis seal projected on screen behind them

Spotlight: Heller Launches Opioid Policy Research Collaborative

In 2017, Heller launched the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative (OPRC) to advance desperately needed scholarship on interventions to address the opioid addiction epidemic. The OPRC is co-directed by Andrew Kolodny and Peter Kreiner, and is located at the Institute for Behavioral Health. (Read the press release.)

Research Institutes and Centers

Schneider Institutes for Health Policy

The Schneider Institutes for Health Policy combines three institutes under a single umbrella to form a leading health care policy and research entity whose consistent strength is its capacity to analyze the causes of health care challenges, formulate solutions, implement demonstration projects and evaluate their impacts. These activities create a rich environment for graduate education and prepare Heller students for leadership roles both nationally and internationally.

Institute on Healthcare Systems

The Institute on Healthcare Systems (IHS) at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy is dedicated to bringing greater knowledge to both private and public policy makers. This is accomplished through state and national forums, short-term policy studies and research using advanced study designs and analytics. Our broad expertise on payment options, delivery systems, patient care practices, and quality has allowed us to develop real world organizational solutions, particularly for vulnerable populations. Initiatives affiliated with IHS include:

Institute for Behavioral Health

The Institute for Behavioral Health (IBH) at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy focuses on the intersection of health, behavior, and systems of care, with an emphasis on their linkages.  Its underlying premise is that these systems can be better used to promote healthier lifestyles and assist individuals to engage in behaviors which lead to better health. Major projects of IBH include:

Institute for Global Health and Development

The Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD) at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy seeks to bring the best research to leaders and policy makers to achieve results at scale with a focus on the poor and social justice. IGHD does direct government advising, policy-relevant research and evaluation, and advocacy to impact policy making in partnership with like-minded institutions in the U.S., the international community and the developing world.

Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) is a research institute that advances economic opportunity and equity for individuals and families, particularly households of color and those kept out of the economic mainstream. Our work furthers the understanding that assets and wealth are critical to household well-being and all families should have access to the resources and opportunities needed to participate fully in social and economic life. Working at the intersections of academia, policy, and practice, IASP partners with diverse communities to transform structures, policies, and narratives. Grounded in a social justice tradition, our research informs strategic action for racial and economic justice to achieve an inclusive, equitable society.

Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy

The mission of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy (ICYFP) is to conduct and disseminate policy relevant research on the well-being, health and development of children and their families. ICYFP’s vision is that all children should be able or enabled to achieve the Institute of Medicine’s (2004) definition of children’s health, that is, to develop and realize their potential, satisfy their needs, and develop the capacities that allow them to interact successfully with their biological, physical, and social environments.

There are vast global, national and local inequities in the ability of children to achieve health. ICYFP research seeks to understand the causes of these inequities and to offer program and policy solutions to alleviate them. ICYFP has a special focus on vulnerable children and their families, including those children who have fewer opportunities for achieving health due to their race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status or disability status. 

Center for Youth and Communities

Established at the Heller School in 1983, the Center for Youth and Communities works to improve the quality of education, workforce development, and community systems in order to prepare young people for college, work, and life.  By combining scholarly research and practical experience with an emphasis on young people whose supports and opportunities have been few, the Center’s work is guided by three goals:

  • Using science-based research to improve the quality and impact of youth programs and policies.
  • Strengthening governance, leadership and management in philanthropy, the nonprofit sector and socially responsible business.
  • Developing and using outcome-based planning and evaluation methods to deepen public understanding, strengthen and prove the efficacy of particular programs, and shape policies.

Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

The Lurie Institute for Disability Policy is dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism and other disabilities across the lifespan through innovative social policies that foster inclusion into the mainstream of society. The Lurie Institute conducts research on disability policy in the United States with a special emphasis on autism, focusing on the lifespan of persons with disabilities and their families, and analyzing policy options for achieving the broadest integration of persons with disabilities into the mainstream of U.S. society, including their own voices in such analyses.

Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy draws upon scholarship and practitioner experience to inform philanthropy that moves social justice work forward. We engage emerging and established members of the philanthropic community via publications and programming and through coursework and fellowships that provide real-world experience in social justice grantmaking.

Center for Global Development and Sustainability

The Center for Global Development and Sustainability (GDS) is an interdisciplinary and multinational group that advances scholarship and applied research on problems of vulnerability in developing countries as well as in advanced economies. Its core faculty and affiliated researchers include those from varied disciplines of the natural and social sciences, development studies and the humanities. GDS engages in partnerships in the U.S. and throughout the world that build understanding and expand capacity for sustainable and emancipatory development.

Relational Coordination Research Collaborative

Relational coordination is communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration - a challenge that is experienced in every sector at every level of action, from small groups to large inter-organizational networks. The Relational Coordination Research Collaborative  is an international learning community that brings together researchers and practitioners to foster the development of relational coordination where it is needed to achieve pressing policy goals. The RCRC strives to fulfill our mission through community building, partnerships, training, certification, grant-funded research, consulting, publications and public engagement.  The RCRC works in partnership with Heller students, faculty and research scientists across multiple institutes on projects of mutual concern.

Our biannual research journal: The Heller Social Policy Impact Report

Fall 2019 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from January 1 to July 31, 2019.

Download an accessible PDF of the Fall 2019 Impact Report

Spring 2019 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from July 1 to December 31, 2018.

Download an accessible PDF of the Spring 2019 Impact Report

Heller Social Policy Impact Report, Fall 2018

Fall 2018 Issue

This issue covers research and related activities conducted from January 1 to June 30, 2018.

Download an accessible PDF of the Fall 2018 Impact Report
Impact Report Archives